If you open a door on a shockingly pale man holding a severed foot it isn't usually such a charming story as this. But you'd have to know Data.
Behind the closed doors of a lab on deck 12, the android officer has created life.
Picard is flabbergasted.
"I have not observed anyone else on board consulting you about their procreation, Captain." And unlike them, Data doesn't leave a mess...
Data has named the android, but allowed it to choose its own gender and appearance. Lal wanted to be exactly like Troi, but settles for the option Troi liked: a human female.
"Show me more, Father." Lal learns to blink, and eat, and read. She plays catch to the same skill level as I do at age 35: zero.
Wet Blanket Admiral Haftel wants Lal in the Daystrom Annex for research. And he feels Data's presence would 'retard the new android's progress'. Picard sticks up for Lal as Data's child.
"It may not be easy for you and I to see her that way, but he does. And I respect that."
School is a tough one. Lal couldn't grasp teen socialization, and the pre-teen class they moved her to was afraid. Data has the difficult moment of explaining. "Differences sometimes scare people..."
"I do not wish to be different," Lal asserts. Kid, he gave you flesh tones, that's more than he got!
"I can give her attention..." Data frets to fellow single parent Dr. Crusher. "But I am incapable of giving her love."
"Now why do I find that so hard to believe?" says Beverly to herself.
Does Guinan's Green Stop Sign hat send a mixed message? Stop? Go? Whatever! She hires Lal as a waitress to observe human behaviour. Lal masters the use of contractions, which Data still has not. Hasn't.
Also she should not steal her first kiss from Will Riker. Shouldn't. Does.
Lal asks her father why he still tries to emulate humans.
"It is the struggle itself that is most important. We must strive to be more than we are, Lal. It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards."
With Haftel's threat of relocation, Lal runs to Troi and becomes AFRAID. The fear registers in Troi's senses.
Lal's emotional awareness seems to be a symptom of cascade failure. Data and Haftel put aside their differences to try to save her... and fail.
"Another pathway would collapse, and then another. His hands... were moving faster than I could see... he refused to give up. It just wasn't meant to be."
"I love you, father."
"I wish I could feel it with you."
"I will feel it for both of us. Thank you for my life. Flirting. Laughter. Painting. Family. Female. Human." Her last words.
Data transfers Lal's memories back into his mind. It seems strange, but I guess there's a lot of dead people up there already.
"The Offspring" does what it ever has and always will: moves me to tears like a big girl's blouse. It's essentially the same plot as 'The Child', of course, but it works so, SO much better. Hallie Todd's hilarious and heartbreaking performance, Rene Echeverria's touching words, and Spiner, Stewart, Sirtis, et al giving their best.
If you don't like this one, your soul needs a level one diagnostic.